- Todoist vs Things 3 - Your Decision Made Easy
- Areas where Things 3 Excel
- UI and UX
- Better project management hierarchy.
- Deadline date
- Mindnode support
- Superior task description field
- Areas where Todoist Excels
- Task priorities
- Team sharing
- Google Calendar integration
- Complex NLP support
Todoist vs Things 3 - Your Decision Made Easy
Recently, I’ve been comparing Todoist with Things 3 for my projects and task management. I managed to document my decision-making process and publish it.
In context, I used Notion for task management. It was overkill for me, and capturing and organizing tasks felt clunky and slow to me. Their mobile app experience is also not good. I still use Notion for managing my entire business.
As I decided to move out of Notion, I had two options, Todoist and Things 3.
Todoist is the most popular task management solution. It’s a cross-platform solution, which means that Todoist has apps for Android, Windows, iOS, and Mac, and they even have a Chrome extension. It’s a proper SaaS application that can be accessed on the go with its web interface, making it ideal for team setups.
Things 3, on the other hand, is only available for Apple products. They have their iOS, iPad, and Mac apps (they sell these separately).
If you’re handling only your personal tasks and not collaborating with other team members (and/or if you’re locked in the Apple ecosystem), Things 3 can be a good option for you.
Areas where Things 3 Excel
UI and UX
If you believe your task management workflow should be seamless and every interaction should take no more than 300 milliseconds, then Things 3 would be the right app.
It has a good user experience as it is a native app for Apple devices. Todoist, on the other hand, is a SaaS application; all their apps are essentially web apps under the hood. Even in their Mac and Windows applications, you feel like you’re interacting with a web browser instead of leveraging the native functionality of the platform.
The user experience is intuitive. For example, you can have more than one Things-3 window open side by side and drag and drop the tasks between these windows to organize the tasks easily. Or, you can have one window open for your inbox and another window open for your upcoming view, and just drag and drop to plan your week!
Things 3 is also great for those who love markdown and keyboard-driven workflows. The Things 3’s founders love markdown and have strategically laid down keyboard shortcuts to embrace mouse-less workflows. On the other hand, in Todoist, although there are keyboard shortcuts, you need to rely heavily on your mouse. For example, you can use the “/“ key for searching on Todoist, but to select the result, you still need to click via mouse.
Better project management hierarchy.
In addition to traditional projects and tasks, Things 3 also comes with a macro-level organizational tool called "Areas". With Areas, you can manage different areas of your life and fit projects into them. This impressive feature allowed me to replicate August Bradley’s PPV system (Pillars, Pipelines, Vaults).
However, you can replicate this system in Todoist by using labels, but that still counts as a dirty hack. If you are choosing to go with Todoist, I recommend doing this.
In Todoist, there is only one date field called the due date. You don't have the option to set a deadline date. This can be problematic if you have a task that you need to do today, but the deadline is five days from now. (for example, preparing today for an exam that is 3 days later).
In Things 3, there is a separate field called deadline date. This adds another dimension to your tasks and helps sort and filter tasks.
Another great benefit of Things 3 is its integration with Mindnode - a mind-mapping software. You can create tasks inside of your Mindnode's mindmap and just export them directly to Things 3. This helps you brainstorm and plan out your tasks.
Superior task description field
Things 3 also has a better project and task description field. You can use markdown editing syntax to add formatting to your description. It also comes with a checklist feature instead of sub-tasks (which many minimalists love).
On the other hand, with Todoist, you can create sub-tasks inside sub-tasks and set due dates and tags for each sub-tasks. But, at that point, you'd be better off with indentation-based task management platforms like TaskPaper.
Areas where Todoist Excels
Todoist comes with the ability to set priorities for tasks, but in the case of Things 3, you need to use their labels feature to add priorities.
Some people even use areas for having priorities, which I'm not a big fan of.
Todoist is a cross-platform application--if you're part of a team or have a virtual assistant using Windows or Android devices, you can easily collaborate on a project with your other team members. If you ask me, this is a big upset because collaboration with team members is a high-leverage activity. This was one of the significant factors why I went with Todoist.
Google Calendar integration
Todoist natively integrates with Google Calendar--it's a two-way sync. But in the case of Things 3, it only integrates with Apple Calendar. As a workaround, you need to integrate Apple Calendar with Google Calendar so that Things 3 can display your calendar events. Again, this will not be a proper integration because Things 3 will only display the events, not import them.
Complex NLP support
Todoist capturing tasks and organizing them right away when capturing is pretty straightforward. Because you can add due dates in natural language, for example, you can enter something like "every second week of the month" or "in 5 days," and it will automatically insert the due date.
In contrast, Things 3 has basic natural language support. You can enter in something like "in 2 days", "in 5 days," or "next month Monday," and it will be able to parse that. But for recurring tasks in Things 3, there is no natural language processing support.
In Todoist, you can create filtered views so that only specific projects will be displayed in the view and set the sorting and filtering for these filtered views. But in the case of Things 3, you will be stuck using only some pre-built preset views that the app comes with.
But the inbuilt views with Things 3 are well thought out and intuitive, and many minimalists need no more than that.
Todoist is not only compatible with Zapier, similar to that of Things 3, but also many integration platforms like Make.com and Automate.io, and even Notion in the foreseeable future. It also has native integration with Google Calendar, Slack, and Chrome extensions for Gmail, and many more options are available.
I choose Todoist over Things 3 for the following reasons:
- It is compatible with more platforms (for collaborating with my team)
- It has more integrations. It has a better API, making it easier to integrate with my other cloud apps like Make.com, Slack, and Google Calendar.
- With Todoist, it's easier to export out if I ever need to migrate to another app, whereas with Things 3, it's not.
Things 3 can still be the right choice for you:
- If you use many Mac apps like Bear, Fantastical, Apple Shortcuts, and Mindnode and want to take advantage of the native integrations.
- If you value having a natively built app that is easy to use on Mac devices.
- If you don't need to collaborate with team members who are using non-Apple devices.